Boxing followers can be handled to a festive feast when heavyweight fights Deontay Wilder vs. Joseph Parker and Anthony Joshua vs. Otto Wallin prime a card of uncommon high quality on Dec. 23. Named as “Day of Reckoning,” the showcase event will have eight fights featuring world champions, former world champions and contenders at heavyweight, cruiserweight and light heavyweight going down in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Few boxing playing cards in current historical past can match the depth in high quality that can be on present within the desert. Let’s check out the fights and clarify why every is so vital.
Deontay Wilder vs. Joseph Parker
What’s all of it about? It’s exhausting to select a finest matchup from such a robust choice, however in case you needed to then Wilder-Parker is maybe it. The 2 former world heavyweight champions are combating to remain related and to face Anthony Joshua in 2024. Parker reigned as WBO champion from 2016 to 2018; Wilder was WBC champion from 2015 to 2020.
How does it play out? Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs), who was negotiating to face Joshua on Dec. 23 earlier this 12 months, is risking greater than Parker (33-3, 23 KOs), who has his fourth combat in almost a 12 months. Wilder has had just one spherical of motion since October 2022, when he stopped Robert Helenius in his first combat since back-to-back KO losses to Tyson Fury. Parker’s finest probability is to maintain the combat at vary, setting a quick tempo, and transferring away from Wilder’s damaging proper hand. However the American will at all times be harmful with a one-punch KO.
What’s on the road? A combat towards Joshua in 2024. Parker misplaced to Joshua on factors in 2018, however a rematch turns into a chance if can beat Wilder like Fury, who the New Zealander trains alongside. Wilder vs. Joshua is the larger combat, although, and the most important within the division exterior of WBA-IBF-WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk vs. WBC titleholder Tyson Fury, who meet back in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 17.
Why do you have to watch? That is most likely one of the best heavyweight matchup this 12 months. We discover out if Wilder, at age 38, nonetheless has his neutralizing punch — and if we’re going to get lastly get AJ vs. Wilder.
Anthony Joshua vs. Otto Wallin
What’s all of it about? Joshua is taking a threat by dealing with Wallin. He has simply six weeks to organize for a southpaw after weeks, or months, of hypothesis he could be dealing with damaging right-hand KO machine Wilder on Dec. 23. If Joshua (26-3, 23 KOs) loses to Wallin (26-1, 14 KOs) he has little probability of dealing with the likes of Wilder or Fury subsequent 12 months. Wallin has been calling to combat Joshua for years, believing he can get the higher of him.
How does it play out? Joshua, 34, has restricted expertise towards southpaws and discovering how he fares towards Wallin can be fascinating. The final port-sider Joshua confronted was Usyk, who beat him on factors in successive fights (2022 and 2021). Wallin, 32, from Sweden however primarily based in the USA, gave Fury a fright in 2019, taking him to factors after Fury suffered a cut early on which later required nearly 50 stitches. Since then Wallin has compiled six wins, some towards restricted opponents and he squeezed previous former world cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev by a cut up factors choice in September. Fury and Gassiev didn’t cease Wallin, and maybe that was the motivation for Joshua in taking this dangerous project. However count on AJ to field like he did towards Robert Helenius in August, at vary and cautiously within the early rounds earlier than opening up his offense within the latter rounds.
What’s on the road? A possible combat versus Deontay Wilder for Joshua, or a profitable rematch for Wallin.
Why do you have to watch? To see if Joshua can reply doubts about how nicely he does towards southpaws and uncover if we’ll lastly get Joshua vs. Wilder.
Dmitrii Bivol vs. Lyndon Arthur
What’s all of it about? Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) is the best ranked fighter and with a greater win on his document (versus a major Canelo Alvarez) than anybody else on the cardboard. Arthur (23-1, 16 KOs), who has received 4 in a row since getting knocked out by Anthony Yarde in 2021, would want to supply an enormous upset to win. He was stunned to get this combat.
How does it play out? Count on Arthur to be recreation, however not in the identical league as Bivol, who’s coming off sensible factors wins over Gilberto Ramirez and Alvarez.
What’s on the road? Bivol’s WBA world mild heavyweight title.
Why do you have to watch? Bivol brings high quality and is the best ranked fighter on this unbelievable card. Bivol is No 5 in ESPN’s latest pound for pound rankings and was ESPN’s Fighter of the Year in 2022. Victory would arrange the prospect of a long-awaited conflict towards fellow Russian Artur Beterbiev to resolve an undisputed world mild heavyweight champion subsequent 12 months. Beterbiev defends his belts towards Callum Smith on Jan. 13.
Daniel Dubois vs. Jarrell Miller
What’s all of it about? Miller (26-0-1, 22 KOs) talks a great recreation, however not too long ago the previously suspended boxer has not been combating on the identical degree as youthful contender Dubois (19-2, 18 KOs), who gave a great account of himself versus Usyk in August.
How does it play out? Miller will take some shifting, however Dubois will finally get the job achieved within the second half of the combat. Usyk stopped Dubois within the ninth spherical, however Dubois can take some confidence to how he carried out that night time.
What’s on the road? Victor will put themselves in rivalry for greater fights in 2024.
Why do you have to watch? Each Miller and Dubois have energy and this is a chance for one in every of them to look good in entrance of a big TV viewers. This may very well be one of the crucial entertaining fights of the night time.
Jai Opetaia vs. Ellis Zorro
What’s all of it about? Opetaia (23-0, 18 KOs), 28, like Bivol, is No 1 in his respective division in ESPN’s newest divisional rankings and is extensively anticipated to protect that standing in Riyadh.
How does it play out? For Zorro, this can be a massive leap up in school, however he’ll strategy the combat with confidence after good wins this 12 months versus Luca D’Ortenzi and Hosea Burton. Zorro (17-0, 7 KOs) doesn’t have expertise or KO energy on his facet. Opetaia made fast work of a equally skilled opponent in Jordan Thompson two months in the past. The Australian stopped Thompson in 4 rounds and Zorro will do nicely to stop the champion from scoring one other stoppage win in his second protection.
What’s on the road? Opetaia’s IBF world cruiserweight title. The Australian can transfer on to a title unification combat in 2024.
Why do you have to watch? Opetaia is presently one of the best there’s at cruiserweight and someday hopes to step as much as heavyweight.
Filip Hrgovic vs. Mark De Mori
What’s all of it about? Hrgovic was concerned in a snoozer final day out towards Demsey McKean and he actually must make an announcement towards his Australian opponent if he needs to be thought of for greater title opponents subsequent 12 months.
The Croatian is in a great place — No 1 challenger with the IBF — so must win to remain entrance of the queue for one of many belts held by Usyk.
How does it play out? Hrgovic finally stopped McKean within the final spherical in August, however towards 41 12 months outdated De Mori he must be getting the job achieved sooner. De Mori has been working a good distance from elite degree since he was blasted out in a spherical by David Haye in 2016 and this match-up isn’t any the place close to the standard of others on the cardboard.
What’s on the road? Hrgovic must win to maintain his place on the entrance of the road for Usyk.
Why do you have to watch? This may very well be over rapidly and is an opportunity to evaluate what hazard Hrgovic poses for the likes of Usyk, even when it does find yourself being a mismatch.
Arslanbek Makhmudov vs. Agit Kabayel
What’s all of it about? These two is likely to be a number of the least recognized fighters on the invoice, however do not let that put you off. They’re each among the many chasing group hoping for a world heavyweight title shot within the subsequent two years.
How does it play out? Makhmudov (18-0, 17 KOs) is without doubt one of the rising stars of the heavyweight division and the Canada-based Russian doubtlessly faces his hardest check but towards the European champion. Kabayel (23-0, 15 KOs), from Germany, can no less than be anticipated to last more than Makhmudov’s final opponent (70 seconds)
What’s on the road? Winner takes a step nearer to a compulsory place and retains their unbeaten document.
Why do you have to watch? Makhmudov fights as if he has a curfew to maintain. KO appears inevitable.
Frank Sanchez vs. Junior Fa
What’s all of it about? Miami-based Cuban Sanchez (23-0, 16 KOs) is one other heavyweight hoping to make an impression on the massive stage in Riyadh and his current kind suggests he might accomplish that.
How does it play out? Fa (20-2, 11 KOs) is rebuilding his profession since losses to Lucas Browne and Parker, however has not fought since October 2022. He must produce a shock consequence to vary the course of his profession.
What’s on the road? Greater alternatives for the winner.
Why do you have to watch? Sanchez has received three fights inside the distance and appears good for one more stoppage win.